If I had to point to one way Californians are different from the rest of the country, it would be the importance of patio culture. The casualness Californians are so famous for extends from there. The grill is set up for cooking year-round, and used except in the most inclement weather (high winds, heavy rain).
Denis Kelly has captured the essence of this culture in his 2000 book, "Pacific Grilling." It's a small, softcover volume, but it's 239 pages are packed with excellent ideas, techniques and recipes. It has two drawbacks: Softcover books are hard to cook from since they do not easily fold flat without damaging their spines, and it has no photographs, only scattered illustrations by Kurt D. Hollomon.
Kelly wrote, with sausagemeister Bruce Aidells, one of the best books ever on cooking most every kind of meat, "The Complete Meat Cookbook." "Pacific Grilling" also has great meat recipes, but with more of a Pacific Rim flair, and rounds out a cook's meal with plenty of yummy vegetable dishes, numerous ways to grill fish and poultry, and even desserts to grill later as the coals cool a bit.
Here's a recipe from the book for ratatouille, which I've made many times and adore. Ratatouille is extremely versatile and gets even better a day or more later as the flavors co-mingle and intensify. Chopped, it makes a great topping for grilled bread appetizers; rinsed of its dressing and puréed, it can be mixed with a little broth and heated to make a hearty soup. Tip: If you make the marinade in a blender or food processor, it will come out homogenized and creamy.
If you want this book, which is in like-new condition, leave a comment (click on the words below this post that say "0 comments" and it'll bring up a box for yours) and a way to contact you. If you want a copy of the recipe to print out and use, email me. I hope someone who has enjoyed this blog will claim this book that has given me so much enjoyment.